Three of the best men in the world are in love with Naomi Soul but she barely has the time. She’s busy solving cases for the FBI, trying not to neglect her English bulldog Winston. Someone’s killing famous authors using the methods in their stories.
Miles A. Maxwell has joined me today to delve into the mysteries in the life of Naomi Soul. Miles, let’s start our chat today by talking about what was the initial idea for the puzzle of Naomi and her life in ‘Die by the Pen’?
It began with the idea of Naomi. An seemingly ordinary woman loved by the three best single men in the world — because she is anything but ordinary.
How did the extraordinary Naomi and her three single male friends develop?
Well, for Naomi’s boyfriends I thought, who would be the three most perfect men that a woman just couldn’t choose between them. Not that they don’t have flaws. Just that they’re all different and tops in what they each do.
It must be fun to write such interesting character dynamics. Do you think that it would be a worthwhile experience to watch these dynamics play out if the characters could really come to life?
I feel, in a way, that’s already happened in the story.
I’m glad that these relationships have already been served so well. What was the most important thing that you wanted the relationships in your book to say to the readers?
Enjoy life! Live every day and whatever you choose to do to the fullest.
Enjoy the fullness of life is fantastic advice! If this is what you wanted to say, how do you get the plot to unfold around this concept? Was research required to get you there?
Tons! The killings take place in Florida, California and New York; plus, no killing, but a visit to Snowbird (Utah) — all places I’ve lived or spent time. So those weren’t too tough to get right. But I needed information on the way certain parts of the FBI works, and the way the Library of Congress buildings are structured and connected to each other. Also a little research on the Jefferson Duplicator.
Obviously, you’re not employed by the FBI then :). Out of interest, where have you been employed, and do you think that your experiences there helped form aspects of the plot?
Well, I used to build and sell businesses. I’m also self-trained in chemical, mechanical and aeronautical engineering, as well as computer science. I think a good plan, a well-researched plot and technical understanding of a story’s subject are important. But I tone it way down until it’s very casual.
I’m sure many of your readers appreciate that. Novels really shouldn’t read like technical manuals. Looking back on the novel now that it’s complete, do you feel any particular sense of pride or accomplishment for any part of this book, and what part was best?
Reading it for myself. It’s a blast! And, of course, all the great feedback I’ve gotten from the thousands of people who’ve already enjoyed it.
Reading it and then getting all of that positive feedback must be fantastic! Now, I’m guessing you don’t only write for the accolades. What pushes you to sit down and type out another story?
Partly to have fun, partly to exorcise demons, partly to correct massive unfairness I find in the world today.
As you are trying to work through issues from the real world, does this mean that you know where the story will go?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
Okay, so it sounds like your writing process is fairly fluid. Do you feel in yourself that you are a structured writer? Do you plan much, or does it just flow out of you?
I use different colored mini-index cards on big foam core boards to organize and reorganize the plot. There’s more about this method at: http://www.stateofreason.com/HowIWrite.html including a nice picture of one of the boards. I’m very visual. Once I have the pictures in my head, I convert them into words.
That is an awesome board. With such a strong visual signal like that board, do you find that you run into writer’s block from time to time? And what do you do to resolve it?
Yes. Read a good novel. Go for a walk outside. Take a nap.
More advice should be to take naps. Does music also help you to boost up your creative processes? Do you listen to anything while writing?
I like to play kind of an up-tempo jazz version of Misty or Sunny Side Of The Street on my keyboard. Or Classical Gas on my guitar in between writing scenes.
I do love Classical Gas, it has to be one of my personal favourite guitar melodies. Once you have done your writing how do you approach editing?
I edit my books myself, beginning to end. I’ve never been able to find a good professional editor that loves fiction as much as I do. Part of my training was paying for large numbers of readers to read my early drafts until they were kick-ass.
I haven’t heard that advice before for editing, but I really do like your spin on it. Is that your overall top tip for self-published authors, or do you find something else holds the premier position?
Just to paraphrase James Patterson: As soon as you finish writing a book, start another one.
And have you taken his advice? Have you already started on another novel?
I’m completing Book Three, Finding Reason, of the State Of Reason Mystery series.
Good luck with your progress there and I’m sure your audience is eagerly awaiting this instalment. We’ve reached the part of interview I’m eager to explore, the quick fire round. I’ll start my question shots with: Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
That initiation of force by one person against another is evil. Everything springs from that.
I really like that one. Very powerful. Are you a valuable asset on a quiz team?
What is your favourite ocean?
Whatever one I’m on.
If they made a movie from your book who would you choose to play the main characters?
I think I’d leave it up to the director.
Are you introvert or extrovert?
A little of both.
Do you have a ‘do not use’ or ‘most hated words’ list when you are writing?
I think all words are wonderful and beautiful and useful when used properly.
What is your favourite flavor of ice-cream?
Whatever ice cream I’m eating.
Finally, do you have a favourite line from your book that you could share with us today?
“Just back up slowly,” I said in a gentle voice to the screaming paramedic, trying to calm her down. “Stop screaming at the snakes.”
Screaming that those snakes will get you nowhere. Miles thank you for your generosity and time and best of luck with your future mystery tales.
Want to find out more about Miles? Connect here!